Friends, the spice farm trail led me on to the fascinating world of spice tourism. Today tourism has so many niche offerings with recent attractions like heritage and wellness tourism, but I would like to focus on spice tourism, which is one of the most promising and upcoming tourism programmes in the present scenario.
What makes spice tourism exciting? Is it just the aromatic spices that make it desirable? Is it the visit to the spice plantations that add to the overall experience? Or is it about the rejuvenating properties of spices that draw people into its fold? Well, actually it's a combination of various factors that make this emerging segment of tourism so attractive. It's not just about so many take-aways for the tourist. Even if I look at it from a bird's eye view, common sense tells me that this sector has ample scope for generating local employment, earning foreign currency and improving the existing scenario of the place.
Ok, that's something at the macro level. So when we look at promoting spice tourism, broadly speaking it can work by bringing together three concepts under its umbrella. The first being the spice trade route. Guided tours can help tourists rediscover the legendary spice routes, peppered with fabled tales of maritime trade and culminating with a visit to the traditional spice market.
The second option would be to piggyback on Kerala's USP as the Spice Coast of India. The outcome shapes up in the form of spice culinary tourism. This is how it would work. As guests savour the food, they will learn about the spice trade routes associated with the spices, besides enriching themselves about the characteristic spices-flavouring agents that make the food so delectable. Kerala is a diverse land of mountains, water bodies and forests and this diversity has resulted in regional culinary specialties. So probably tourists can visit spice plantations (affiliated to the Kerala Tourism Board) and get a first-hand experience about spices used in culinary delicacies.
Regardless of regional diversity, Kerala cuisine's signature touch is showcased through the traditional Kerala feast or "Sadhya" wherein the essence of spices like turmeric, cinnamon, clove, cardamom and nutmeg adds a distinct touch to the 20 curries served during the meal. Or else, seafood lovers can be treated to fish curry meals enhanced with spices like turmeric, ginger and pepper.
As per the Kerala Tourism Policy 2012, the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, will encourage the hoteliers and restaurants to provide local cuisine prepared with the spices of Kerala. Steps will also be taken to establish Kerala Culinary Institute to ensure the much needed manpower.
Finally, let's not forget Kerala is home to ayurveda. So it makes sense to package Spice Health tourism as the third concept and promote the medicinal, healing and cosmetic properties of spices and clove-based and cinnamon-based spice oils used in ayurvedic therapies.
It's clear that all these concepts can be developed into a complete spice tour package. Appropriate spice plantations, culinary experts and ayurvedic centres need to be identified to take the idea forward.
Even as the thought sunk in, I began to browse through the official website of the Kerala Tourism Board. I saw that there's a mention of the plantation town of Kumily in the Idukki District, where I'm given to understand that Kumily has chalked out viable spice tourism initiatives. It's understandable that spice plantation visits are on the agenda. Notwithstanding that, there's a spice fest organised in the High Ranges along with the spice shops in Kumily, which are tourist attractions. It's anyone's guess that during the spice fest the aroma of spices lingers in the air as Kumily sports a festive look.
Well let's hope Kerala continues to promote spice tourism with all gusto and spice tourism evolves into a league of its own. I sign off on that note.